I know so many brilliant and talented women who are being wasted. Once powerhouses in their jobs, now powerhouses in their homes — many of them can’t or won’t look for a job because they fear the consequences on family life. Some take jobs that are beneath their skill levels, working in coffee shops or doctors offices because there’s no way corporate Canada is going to let them work fewer hours doing what they really love and are really good at. Others work at home all day and then volunteer in schools or the community as an outlet for all the mental energy they’re not expending while doing the wash.
Where I live, in suburbia, people have to make a commitment to work that’s akin to that of a marriage. With this contract I hereby vow to leave for work no later than 7:30 a.m. I promise to fight tooth and nail to get to the office, whether it be by car, train or subway — or in my case all three. In sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer for as long as you promise not to fire me for being late. I will not take too many sick days on behalf of my children, I will make every effort to be available, even when I’m at the doctor’s office and in turn you will give me a job I (hopefully) like.
But I truly believe that somewhere along the line, something’s — or more accurately, someone’s — got to give (usually the mom., but not always) Here’s how it works. The breadwinner promises to work really, really hard, forgoing all other parental responsibilities — even the ones they like. The lower income earner seems to either keep her job and be frowned at every time she has to skip out for a child-related duty. Or if she can, she quits because more often than not struggling to find work life balance sucks! And when it comes right down to it family is life. Work is just work — whether it be enjoyable or not.
A very smart friend of mine has a brilliant idea; what if we started an employment agency for all those talented under- and unemployed women. What if we found jobs that allowed family-minded people to work fewer days a week, for fewer hours. Is there a market for us? Are there companies out there that actually recognize a huge segment of society is under-utilized and are willing to work with us?
Probably not. I guess I just want all the smart and talented women out there, who aren’t doing what they really want to be doing, to be allowed to have their cake and eat it too.